My latest Post.

This view,this beauty
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.

My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.

Such beauty
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.

Bokusui Wakayama.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Map Location.
   I have been in this area several times over the years on my mountain-bike and, on those occasions, I only went as far as the junction of routes-61 & 107 before heading for home. Whenever I was there I always wondered what was further up route-61. Then, a couple of months ago, when I was reading Wes' latest blog - Mt Sajiki - Sinking In. - my curiosity was further aroused. So, before long, I was digging-out my maps and planning my second hiking trip for 2015. I had to do a lot of research as to how to get there, what track to take, and where to finish my hike at. I decided on a one way course, commencing at Kumogahata and ending at Onogocho. With only two return buses from Kumogahata, and a more regular service from Onogocho, my plans were made.

    Alighting from the bus at the hamlet of Kumogahata
was like stepping-back in time; arriving here required one bus, followed by a train, then two subways and finally a 9-seater bus, a total of 2.5-hours travel. The 9-seater was full to capacity with three different groups and, as the day progressed, our paths would cross (no pun intended) more than once. To allow the others to get on the trail ahead of me, I spent the time preparing my cameras, relieving myself, and removing my hiking jacket and storing it in my pack (even at 9:10am it was beginning to heat-up).
Map Location.
   Once organized and on the road, my first stop was Shimyo-in Temple, 15-minutes away. As cameras and backpacks weren't permitted beyond the main gate, the above image is all I have to share. As a tour of the complex would have taken the best part of an hour, I opted to move-on, placing Shimyo-in on my "Must Return" list.
   From this point I was leaving-behind the sealed road and entering into mountainous terrain and the summit of Sajikigatake, criss-crossing a narrow stream that, as I proceeded, would soon disappear. About 40-minutes in, my first junction, and first wrong-turn of the day. As there were no signposts about, I checked my map and, putting two-&-two together, took the ascending track on my left. Wrong decision. 10-minutes further on I reached a summit, and the two ladies from the bus. They passed me while I was at the temple. Asking where I was, they informed me I had to back-track to the junction and take the track directly in front of me. As I was returning, I passed by the second group from the bus. Once back on the right track, Sajikigatake was just over an hour away. I was doing good time and, as it was closing-in on midday, time for a bite-to-eat. 
Map Location.
   I had no sooner sat down, and began tucking-into my lunch, when the third group from the bus arrived. If these guys had left before me, how was it I arrived at the summit before them? As they could speak English, we had a good chat about hiking and what tracks we have hiked. During our chat, the second group, who I passed earlier, arrived. After a good feed of curry & chocolate breadsticks, washed-down with two cups of cafe au-lait, I decided it was time to move-on. As the others were returning to Kumogahata, and the bus back to Kyoto, I was making my way, via another track, to the settlement of Onogocho. 
   I had been warned that my track had some danger attached to it, and was very steep. It was by coincidence that I found the junction. Unlike the track(s) to this stage, this one was poorly marked and, as I progressed, I had to stop at each marker to find the next, before proceeding. I soon emerged into a clearing and was rewarded with this fine view overlooking the settlement of Omorihigashicho, about an 1-hour and several hundred meters descent away.

   The stream I was following, as I made my descent, suddenly disappeared and, as I was soon to discover, reappeared as this five-or-so meter high waterfall from a rocky outcrop. Any other day I would have stripped-off and took a well deserved shower.
   Soon my track would emerge onto a forestry skid-site and the access road now became my path to civilization and a smooth sealed road about 2km away. The Amori Resort Camp was my first contact with civilization and, judging by the many cars parked outside, was doing a good trade.
Map Location.
   As I progressed down the valley I passed a complex with some Sakura still in bloom, reminding me how beautiful this time of year is in Japan. Hanami is one of my most favorite celebrations and I look forward to the occasion each year.
   A bit further on and I was reminded of another important time of year - rice harvesting. It is now that the farmers will be flooding their fields and rotary-hoeing them in preparation for planting. To pass by a large area at the different stages of rice growing, can be a sight-to-behold.

Map Location. 
   The next 2km were uneventful and, just as my stomach, and feet, were reminding me to take-a-break, I turned a corner and there was Iwatoochiba-jinja Shrine. And the settlement of Onogocho, my destination. But, before I did anything else, I headed-off to check-out the nearest bus stop and timetable. Much to my confusion, at the time, the nearest stop was a kilometer up the road (little did I know it was near the shrine, thanks to the local policeman) and, upon arrival, I discovered I had about 90-minutes to wait. Great news as I could return to the shrine, have a bite-to-eat, take my boots off, and reflect on the day.
  Now, you would never believe what was about to happen. I was sitting on the stage, basking in the beautiful surroundings, having a hot cafe au-lait & current buns, when the two ladies from the bus suddenly appeared out of the bush. This was our third meeting of the day and Onogocho was their final destination too. After our last meeting, at the summit where I took the wrong turn, they headed in the opposite direction to me and, in a round-about way, ended-up here. Thankfully they could speak English and we had an hour or so chatting about hiking.

Map Location. 
3:53pm, and time to board the bus for home; the return trip consisted of one bus, followed by a walk, then train, then another bus-ride and finishing with a 10-minute struggle home. My hikers reward of a "One Cup Sake", that travelled with me, remained unopened to be used for another hike, but the two large cans of beer in the fridge, went-down a treat. Kanpai.
                                                 So, until next time, Sayoonara.

   Course details:


   I would also like to acknowledge Wes, at Tozan Tales, for allowing me access to his site. Without his post this trip wouldn't have been possible.

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